Windproof cycling jackets have two jobs: they stop the wind in
its tracks so that it doesn't evaporate the sweat from your body quickly
and cool you down too much, and they pack away into a pocket so they're
ready when you need them. A windproof cycling jacket is most useful in
cool, dry weather, letting you ride comfortably without the weight and
bulk of a full-on waterproof jacket.
Most makers of windproof cycling jackets don't claim
any great water-resistance, but we've found a couple that help keep
the rain off too
A windproof cycling jacket is a great outer layer for
chilly morning starts; when things warm up, just stuff it in a pocket
Cheaper windproof cycling jackets use generic
tight-woven fabrics with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating; look
for names like Gore, Polartec and Pertex on spendier jackets
Look for features like a high collar, perhaps with a
fleece lining, pockets, a long back and sleeves long enough to overlap
gloves and seal out the cold
Even at the height of summer, a packable windproof
cycling jacket in your pocket or seatpack can get you out of trouble
if the weather turns
A lightweight windproof cycling jacket can prevent you being caught out
in the wrong kit if the weather turns during the ride, or you’re out
longer than planned. They add a lot of flexibility and versatility to your
cycling outfit. Most lightweight windproof cycling jackets can be rolled
up very small and will fit into a spare jersey pocket, and most use
technical fabrics that are very breathable if you need to wear for the
entirety of a ride.
Fabric is key in a windproof jacket. There are quite a few options on the
market. How much you pay will dictate the quality of the fabric, and
typically the more you pay the lighter and thinner the fabric.
Breathability - the degree to which a jacket lets your sweat vapour escape
- differs from jacket to jacket too.
Gore Windstopper is a very popular choice. It’s manufactured by
laminating a lightweight PTFE microporous polyurethane membrane to a
fabric. Unlike Gore-Tex, which is waterproof, Windstopper is designed to
just keep the wind out. That said, it does a fine job at keeping quite a
bit of lighter rain out too.
Other choices include fabrics made by Polartec, which usually have a
polyurethane membrane bonded onto the face of the fabric, and Pertex which
combines a moisture moving inner layer with a tight weave outer layer that
stops wind getting through.
While only designed to deal with the wind, some windproof fabrics are
reasonably adept at keeping rain out. We’re not talking here about
torrential rain, but they can often keep you dry if you have to cope with
several short showers during a ride.
Lightweight windproofs don't provide much insulation. They're intended to
be used in conjunction with insulation layers to provide the warmth. These
jackets purely stop the wind from getting through to those layers.
Fit is very important. Jackets range from generously sized to race fit,
the right one for you depending on the type of riding you do. If you’re
commuting you probably want a relaxed cut that can go over a couple of
other layers easily. If you’re racing or training, you want to minimise
any excess material flapping in the wind so choose a close and slim cut.
It’s always worth trying a jacket on before buying if possible. Sizing
can vary so much between manufacturers, and details like the length of the
arms, how much the tail drops down, and the fit around the shoulders and
waist, can change from one brand to another.
To keep the weight down, you don't usually get many features. All
lightweight windproofs will have a full-length zip, and some might have
ventilation ports around the arms or in the side panels to boost
ventilation. You don't normally get pockets, but some of the jackets below
do provide pockets, it all depends on the type of cycling you do and your
High-collars can be good for ensuring the wind doesn't sneak in around
your neck. A dropped tail and raised front will give a better on-the-bike
fit, and elasticated waist bands can stop the jacket riding up. Some
jackets will have a pocket that doubles as a pouch to stuff the jacket
into, as the photo above shows.
Lightweight windproofs are made from thin fabrics so they pack away very
small and will easily disappear inside a jersey or backpack pocket when
not in use. If you commute by bike, it's worth having one in your
backpack/pannier at all times, so it's there if you need it.
We’ve picked some of the best reviewed windproof cycling jackets recently
tested on road.cc. Most of these jackets are lightweight windproof jackets
that can be added to your existing outfit, some are very packable so you
can stuff in a jersey pocket when not needed, and some are designed to be
worn all of the time.
The Pearl Izumi Men's Pro Barrier Jacket is a great lightweight option
that'll keep you dry should you need it in the summer, and will also work
well as an outer layer as the days get cooler.
The Pro Barrier is tailored for performance riding; it's for getting
hunkered down on the bar and smashing out the power. The cut is close, and
you get a dropped tail for good coverage when it's raining, and plenty of
length in the arms.
The high-stretch fabric not only provides an excellent fit, it's
windproof and uses PI Dry, a hydrophobic technology that makes it both
water repellent and breathable.
Tester Stu Kerton thought the Sportful Fiandre Strato Wind Jacket was "perfect
if you like to keep the cold out without having to bulk up with lots of
layers. The combined setup blocks the wind without seeing you overheat
on the climbs, and the race cut means you won't have to worry about
fabric flapping about when you are in the drops."
The front and side panels are made from Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper
material which works brilliantly to keep out chilly winds. The lighter
fabric of the arms gives plenty of freedom of movement, though it does
mean your arms might not be as warm as you'd like on very cold days.
This is very versatile windproof cycling jacket that you can tune to a
wide range of conditions just by changing the weight of the layer or
layers underneath it.
Tester Sarah Langridge found the Van Rysel Women's Sportive Cold Weather
Jacket to be "a very good value winter top with some water repellency,
windproofing, and lots of pockets that performed really well in cold,
mostly dry, sub-10 degree temperatures."
Fit is close to keep in the warmth, but not too close — there's room to
easily fit a long-sleeve baselayer underneath. It fends off the wind, as
you'd expect, and there's some water-repellency built into the fabric.
Light rain beads off, but persistent, heavy rain eventually gets through.
The 7Mesh Cypress Hybrid Jacket is targeted at cool mornings and windy
days, when you need lightweight, form-fitting protection but don't need a
full waterproof. Seriously light and compact, it disappears into a pocket
before and after use. It's a 'Significant Birthday' price, mind.
The Cypress Hybrid features Gore-Tex Infinium on the front, a superlight,
super-breathable windblocking fabric that shrugs off light showers and
road spray, but isn't actually waterproof. The forearms and rear of the
jacket is a four-way stretch and super-breathable fabric treated with a
DWR coating, so water just beads straight off. Again not waterproof, but
good enough to shed a light shower while remaining supremely breathable.
The sensation of your front half being protected while your rear half
cools by evaporation is initially unnerving – I wondered if I would then
be too cold on the following descents – but no, it all balances out. Once
the sweat load is gone, thanks to the Cypress Hybrid's amazing
breathability, a good merino base/jersey combo then works to insulate.
Shimano's Evolve Wind Jacket provides a cosy yet breathable layer with a
relaxed fit that opens it up to more casual commuting as well as general
road riding. The styling is very nice, but the notable feature is the Wind
Shield, which looks odd but works well. It's a great jacket, but rather
Shimano's Evolve line sits between the race-focused S-Phyre range and the
casual Explorer collection. Compared with the S-Phyre kit, the Evolve
range is a little roomier, made for a slightly more upright position and,
in the case of this Wind Jacket, also suitable for combining with jeans
for the ride to work or cafe.
The cheapest windproof jacket in this article at just £29.99, the Van
Rysel Ultralight Windproof is light enough to stuff into its own pocket
about the size of a fist, and weighs very little so you can take it in a
backpack, pannier or jersey pocket on all rides. The jacket is very light,
if a little delicate feeling – treat it with care – but it still does a
very good job of blocking the wind. It'll even keep out a light shower if
you get caught out.
RBS stands for Really Bright Stuff, and you're certainly going to get
noticed with this on. It's a packable light weight windproof that's just
right autumn and milder winter days. Its windproof qualities keep the
morning chill at bay. The 100% polyester fabric is thin but is a good
barrier against the wind and will stand up to a bit of light drizzle too.
This three season windbreaker looks good while striking the difficult
balance of warmth against breathability. It's made of a single layer,
coated fabric called Airdry which is intended for mild and windy
conditions and which is quite soft; it feels just like a normal jersey
against the skin.
There are vents at the rear which helps the warm air escape should your
work rate increase, but it's more at home when descending or riding in a
group, not necessarily pushing too hard sitting on a wheel.
Prive and link above is for sizes L to XXL. BikeInn
has S and M for £50.45.
Unlike most of the jackets here, Endura's FS260-Pro Adrenaline Race Cape
is fully waterproof, with a breathable fabric and taped seams. But in
practical terms it has lots in common with most merely water-resistant
windproofs in that it can be easily packed into a pocket.
This is a great garment, proving breathable race capes can be relatively
affordable. Packable race-light 'shells' are usually either
super-expensive yet breathable and comfortable, or cheap and
boil-in-the-bag. I'm delighted to report here that the FS260-Pro straddles
the two definitions.
It performs very well. Of course, there's a limit to how effective any
breathable fabric can be. Even industry standard Gore-Tex meets its match
in the right (or wrong) combination of humidity, warmth and exertion. But,
if you're riding at a high tempo, the Endura keeps you as dry as I've
experienced in a shell such as this. It works best in cooler conditions –
and layering up too much negates its effectiveness – but it really is
Galibier's Gino Pro Wind Jacket is one very impressive piece of kit,
blocking out the breeze without creating a humid micro-climate on the
inside thanks to great breathability.
Galibier has used UPF200 Windstop fabric by Miti for the front panels, a
high thread-count material which is then laminated to create the
windproofing. Nothing gets through at all. To test how insulating the Gino
was, I went out on a night ride with the temperature just half a degree
below freezing and a cold north-easterly wind blowing in. Underneath, all
I had on was a mesh short-sleeved baselayer that I normally wear in the
warmth of summer. My temperature was very comfortable, even on my arms,
where under the sleeves of the Gino my skin was exposed.
The Showers Pass Ultralight Wind Jacket ticks every box for staying warm
while dodging showers in the shoulder seasons. Light, trim-fitting, tiny
when packed and budget-friendly, it's hard to see how it could be improved
The Ultralight squishes into a stuff sack not much larger than my fist,
and disappears into any jersey pocket, awaiting the call to duty. The
Elite Wind Fabric is highly breathable while blocking wind, and the
durable water-repellent finish sheds light rain and drizzle. While the
Ultralight is not marketed as a waterproof, the combination of fabric and
DWR (durable water repellent) finish means after a few minutes under the
kitchen tap, water is still beading off with nothing getting through.
The Chapeau! Echelon Jacket brings together some really nice features
combined with good performance and an excellent fit, even if it looks a
little Star Trek-y.
One of the key points of judgement for the Echelon, as with any other
jacket, is how well it performs in bad conditions. Luckily, testing in the
UK in December means it's been put through its paces.
In terms of windproofing it works really well, with Chapeau! choosing a
fabric that kept even the fiercest wind off. I was really surprised by how
effective it was, simply because it is so thin – it can't be thicker than
a regular sheet of A4 paper, but managed to keep the wind off even in the
freezing cold. It is genuinely impressive.
The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.
Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product in a if we think it's one of the best of its kind.
As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.